Anyone get super unmotivated to work in their landscape in the heat of summer? Whew, we do! It’s the time of year when we really want to be outside to enjoy the hard work we put in during the cooler months of spring. We want to be hanging out by the pool, swinging in the hammock, snoozing on the outdoor couch, and toasting marshmallows over the firepit. But when it comes to weeds, if you’ve got them coming up throughout the summer, it is really critical that you stay on top of them and keep them out of the landscape as much as possible.
If you don’t deal with your weeds, things will just gets worse and worse. Over time, with some attention and persistence, you can reduce the amount of weeds you have to deal with in your yard from year to year. Here’s what we mean…
Annual weeds are primarily spread by seed and only live for one growing season. When they return from year to year, those new weeds are coming from the seeds that were spread by the weeds that grew during previous years. These seeds can last for several years in the soil, some of them can even stay dormant for 10 years or more! But, if we control these weeds while they are growing and prevent them from going to flower and producing seeds, you can reduce the amount of weed seeds hanging out in the soil over time. A single weed can produce hundreds and even thousands of seeds – they are super aggressive and that’s why they’re weeds! By pulling a single annual weed this year before it goes to flower, you can save yourself having to pull hundreds of weeds in the years to come.
Perennial weeds are sometimes spread by seed but more frequently spread just by growing larger or using vegetative propagation. That’s a fancy way of saying they use parts of the plants themselves to create new plants. For example, they may spread by putting out shoots along the soil surface that will create its own roots and make a new plant like wiregrass or creeping charlie. They may have underground root structures that spread and produce new plants like nutsedge. Perennial weeds also include many vines which can be super hard to eliminate!
When controlling these weeds, it’s really important not to let them spread and develop extensive root systems and to remove as much of the root system as possible. To control perennial weeds, persistence is key. Each time you attack a perennial weed whether by pulling, spraying, cutting it with a tool, or giving it whatever you’ve got, it has to use up energy that is stored in its root system in order to push out new growth again. With a lot of persistence and by using a combination of control methods, you can eventually drain its root system of its resources and overpower these weeds. But you’ve gotta be diligent! If it’s allowed to regrow for a long time, especially plants like vines and other woody weeds, it will be able to restore its energy in no time.
So don’t be discouraged and don’t let yourself get lazy! Get out there and stay on top of those weeds. Your future self will thank you so much when, after a few years of persistence, the weed seed bank in the soil has declined and the perennial weeds are starting to fade out. There will always be weeds to manage but, over time, you should have less time pulling weeds and a little extra time for chilling at the pool, reading in your hammock, or whatever it is you love to enjoy outside!